THE ROARING GIRL
by Thomas Dekker and Thomas Middleton.
Swan Theatre Waterside CV37 6BB In rep to 30 September 2014.
7.30pm 24-26 Apr, 12-14, 17, 19, 20, 24, 26, 27, 31 May, 2, 4-6, 9, 10, 14, 18-20 June, 5, 7, 9, 10, 12, 14, 16-18, 23, 24, 26 July, 8, 9, 13, 14, 20, 21, 30 Aug, 1, 2, 10, 11, 19, 24, 25, 27, 29, 30 Sept.
1.30pm 26 Apr, 14, 17, 20 (understudy performance), 24 28 May, 11, 14 June, 5, 19 July, 9, 14, 20 Aug, 20 Sept.
Audio-described 6 Jun.
Captioned 24 July, 20 Sept.
Runs 2hr 50min One interval.
TICKETS: 0844 800 1110.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 21 April.
Shouts and whimpers of a Roaring Girl.
Maybe it’s modern expectations of a lager-filled laddette crew roaming pedestrian precincts on weekend nights, but between them the two Jacobean Toms, Dekker and Middleton, have come-up with something very tame for a character called Moll Cutpurse.
And, for all the programme articles by women, this first in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s 2014 Swan ‘Roaring Girls’ season of Shakespeare-era plays with active female characters, there’s no disguising Moll is the creation of two male writers.
From her first speech, seated with nonchalant confidence yet speaking with calm and reason, Lisa Dillon’s Moll is some way from the “notorious baggage” described (by a male onlooker) being publically punished in 1612 London. She dresses in male apparel, but in an age when that’s often a matter of style it hardly marks her out. It’s easily apparent the playwrights have grafted this contemporary character on to a conventional comedy and satire of London life.
Director Jo Davies relocates things to the late Victorian era, allowing male whiskers and frock-coats to flurry round the stage. But Victorianism is blown-apart by the rock music running through the action. Doubtless intended to assert Moll’s freedom, it’s far too removed in time – unlike the brilliant way David Farr’s Nottingham Taming of the Shrew (2002) ended showing Kate and Petruchio motoring away from the conformist 1950s into the new, freer decade.
Dillon works hard to create a focus in a production where noise and activity are held markers of quality. And there are reliable contributions from David Rintoul as the businessman father whose son uses Moll as a supposed bride-to-be, to win dad round to the less-bad option of his marrying Mary Fitzallard (Faye Castelow, a demure, smiling contrast to Moll).
Ian Redford contributes an exaggerated old buffer cameo and a more considered character in old Fitzallard, while there’s good work, particularly, among the designing young men from Joe Bannister and Keir Charles.
Among the city folk, Lizzie Hopley and Timothy Speyer successfully create convincing comic life as the feather-dealing Tiltyards. But this ‘Roaring’ season opener depends upon islands of individual performances working hard in an unhelpful environment.
Moll Cutpurse: Lisa Dillon.
Sir Alexander Wengrave: David Rintoul.
Neatfoot/Mr Tiltyard: Christopher Middleton.
Sir Adam Appleton/Sir Guy Fitzallard: Ian Redford.
Sir Davy Dapper: Colin Anthony Brown.
Mary Fitzallard: Faye Castelow.
Sebastian Wengrave: Joe Bannister.
Jack Dapper: Ian Bonar.
Goshawk: Peter Bray.
Laxton: Keir Charles.
Gull: Tom Padley.
Mistress Tiltyard: Liz Crowther.
Mt Openwork: Tony Jayawardena.
Mistress Openwork: Harvey Virdi.
Mr Gallipot: Timothy Speyer.
Mistress Galipot: Lizzie Hopley.
Ralph Trapdoor: Geoffrey Freshwater.
Cutlass/Porter: Michael Moreland.
Hangar/coachman: Ken Nwosu.
Annie: Joan Iyiola.
Director: Jo Davies.
Designer: Naomi Dawson.
Lighting: Anna Watson.
Sound: Simon Baker.
Music: Gary Yershon.
Movement: Georgina Lamb.
Company Text/Voice work: Annemette Verspeak.
Dialect coach: Zabarjad Salam.
Fights: Bret Yount.
Dramaturg: Pippa Hill.
Assistant director: Anna Marsland.